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How to Build a Smarter Content Marketing Program with Contrend

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Want to read the minds of your audience?

Contrend can help you get complete visibility into audience content preferences and your competitors' strategies.

The tool uses AI and machine learning to predict and recommend the best content topics, formats, and images that your audience responds to best. 

We spoke with Contrend CEO Peter Bakker and CTO Richard Jones to learn more about how this AI-powered marketing solution works.

In a single sentence or statement, describe Contrend.

Contrend is a scalable, affordable SaaS solution that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to give complete visibility over audience content preferences and competitor strategy.

Contrend delivers unique, data-driven and actionable recommendations and predictions about optimal content topics, styles, formats, tones and images that increase our customers’ reach, engagement, relevance, and sales.

How does Contrend use artificial intelligence in its products?

After defining a subject of interest and a geographical market, our proprietary automated harvesting bots use unassisted learning to analyze and categorize complete content landscapes by collecting data from over 20 content sources.

It is not driven by SEO keywords or social-listening metrics, allowing Contrend to identify genuine audience preferences, not just those from publishers that are good at SEO or are active on social media.

Contrend then uses a variety of AI-derived NLP, self-learning and randomization techniques, and NLG-driven topic definitions to make sense of chaotic and ever-changing content landscapes. This is quantified using methods such as K-Means Clustering to create Contrend’s unique Engagement Index and Opportunity Index metrics.

These create automated reports which clearly show ‘white space’ opportunities for our clients to create or repurpose content that will engage with their target audience and differentiate them versus their competitive set.

Over time (c.3 months), Contrend deploys its machine learning capabilities to correlate and identify trends, which become client-specific predictions of future audience preferences and competitor strategy.

This ensures our clients are always on the front-foot ahead of their competitors, and are creating meaningful and relevant content, developing long-term audience engagement.

Our recent Gold award in the Marketing Innovation category of Asia’s coveted Marketing Excellence Awards is testament to the value Contrend adds: making content that is locally relevant and regionally (globally) consistent.

In addition to top search engines, our data partners include YouTube, Alexa, SEMrush, Meltwater, podcast platforms, and dozens more.

Contrend has advanced unassisted learning capabilities that allows it to produce reports with unprecedented, high accuracy and with limited human training and intervention. The platform gives rapid, accurate classification of multiple content criteria classes, including topic, style, format, visual layout, use of imagery, and market of origin.

This allows you to leverage deep data insights and predictive content recommendations to cut through the noise and create content that your audience actually wants. Contrend can operate in any industry and market, requires limited integration and can be rapidly deployed.

What are the primary marketing use cases for your AI-powered solutions?

Contrend has been used by companies around the world in a variety of industries.

  • Transforming existing content strategy
  • Creating new, engaging content strategy
  • Creating content that generates sales uplifts
  • Assisting entry to new markets and/or rebranding of product and services
  • Localization of regional and global content strategy
  • Assisting development of new products and product extensions (through unique audience insights)
  • Commercializing the value of content, through comparison of Contrend data with client GA/AA data

Here's one example:

United Overseas Bank (UOB) needed to create a new content strategy for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

However, they faced many challenges thanks to competition from smaller banks, along with different cultures, languages, and budgets. UOB used the AI and ML capabilities of Contrend to assess audience preferences and competitor activity in each market.

In doing so, it was able to create a fresh content strategy that was regionally consistent and locally relevant by:

  • Identifying Audience Engagement Index (EI) and Competitor EI Topic Groups per market
  • Identifying similarities and differences between markets
  • Developing regional content pillars
  • Localizing content pillars for each market
  • UOB received a fresh content strategy and actionable content calendars for each market that substantially increased engagement.
  • Client EI vs Competitor Bank EI was up 137%
  • Client EI share of Landscape EI was up 192%

After the strategy was implemented, this resulted in a six-month period where content created for UOB directly increased sales by 10%.

Not only that, but UOB reported increased numbers across all of its major website analytics, including:

  • 20% average increase in number of visitors going to Product Pages, up to 400% increase in some markets
  • 13% of visitors to the content hub ended up visiting Product Pages
  • 300% average increase in conversions (form submissions), conversion rates increased by a similar amount.

What makes your AI-powered solution smarter than traditional approaches and products?

Many times, content strategy is decided by biased or limited data sources, such as focusing on SEO keyword analysis or social listening, plus guesswork or a gut feeling. Did you know that SEO search engines don’t include video, podcast, image-related or voice-search datasets? Contrend does.

Contrend removes that and makes it possible to look at large amounts of data from over 20 different data sources, analyze the content landscape, identify true audience engagement, and see where opportunities lie to create content that will resonate with your audience and put you ahead of your competitors.

Contrend’s data-driven approach addresses the need to balance science and art to give confidence to decision making that directly increases content ROI.

Are there any minimum requirements for marketers to get value out of your AI-powered technology? (e.g. data, list size, etc.)

Contrend can be used for any company who wants to harvest powerful insights to create an effective content strategy.

Clients only need to provide simple inputs to Contrend, to unlock the value it delivers. These are:

  • Market to research
  • Subject to research (including areas to exclude, such as ‘Enterprise banking’ or ‘Business Banking’ if the client wants to only look at ‘consumer banking’
  • Direct competitors they want Contrend to include (Contrend’s research will also identify indirect ‘content competitors’ that are not currently on the client’s radar)

Who are your ideal customers in terms of company size and industries?

SMEs and large enterprises.

What do you see as the limitations of AI as it exists today?

AI is a trending topic that is frequently overused, often by people who don’t actually know what it means. Contrend brings AI down to reality to deliver against real customer needs and challenges. Contrend was built with this end-game in mind, and development of the relevant technology (which happened to be AI and ML) followed.

This allows Contrend to be unbiased and truly valuable: it creates new insights, actionable recommendations and unique predictions, that when enacted, deliver real, visible commercial results.

What do you see as the future potential of AI in marketing?

The world is moving more and more towards digitization and automation, and today’s consumers demand a high level of personalization and relevance.

By utilizing AI in their marketing efforts, brands are able to better connect with their target audience and increase marketing ROI.

Contrend is already developing the ability to harvest and interrogate the rapidly emerging metaverse, for example researching and analyzing NFTs. Contrend is also rebalancing how science (data) fuels the art of content marketing.

Any other thoughts on AI in marketing, or advice for marketers who are just getting started with AI?

Think about the problems and challenges you are trying to solve. Don’t start with a sexy new technology and shoe-horn that to your solution.

Be innovative and creative, always thinking as the end-user, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

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